Friday, February 28, 2014


I love patterns.  I see patterns  in everything that can be interpreted into a quilt.  Pattern, designs, motifs, whatever you want to call it, is my inspiration.  The patterns of Mexican tiles happily led to lots of quilts and my first book, !Quilt Fiesta!  I see pattern on the ground in bricks and sidewalks.  I see patterns in wrought iron designs.  I see patterns in wallpaper and architectural details. I see pattern in rugs and furniture.  I call it "Organic Inspiration" for my quilts.
 I always have a camera in my purse or bicycle bag to snap these photos and file them away on my computer. I consider my camera one of my best design tools. When I am designing a quilt or looking for ideas for quilting, I look to these pattern inspirations and also to design books.  Graham Leslie McCallum is the author of a bunch of pattern motif books that I really enjoy.  One of my favorites is Pattern Motifs: A Sourcebook Paperback . His other books are chock full of ideas also.
Another place to look for inspiration for pattern design ideas is Pinterest.  It's got a great search feature, and talk about eye candy!  You can create your own design boards, follow others or just look around.  Be forewarned.  You can spend a lot of time searching and browsing and drooling. LOL 
We bought new furniture for our Key West place this year, so I thought it was time for new occasional tables.
Our current ones are glass and I think they are just an accident waiting to happen,
especially since we rent out our place. 
 If you have been following my blog since the Summer, you may remember
that I painted a toy chest for Henry.
I had so much fun with it and I was so pleased with how it came out, that I kind of wanted to keep it.  But .... I knew one day I would have the opportunity to paint something for myself.  The day has come.  I found a coffee table at the Salvation Army in Key West.  It cost all of $12.00. After spending lots of time perusing Pinterest, I decided I wanted to make it colorful and full of pattern to fit in with the Key West environment.
I decided first to do a little warm up and paint a little gift box for a friend's new grandson,
that I filled  with Q-Tips.
Then I was ready to attack the table.


 Bailey approves!
Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Love My Students

I never thought I would end up being a teacher.  I went to school to be a Chemist and spent a bunch of years in a lab, making things.  I always loved to make things, whether in a lab or out of clay or out of fabric.  I never thought I would end up sharing what I had learned with others.
In 1999 I started teaching in a lovely quilt shop, called The Country Quilt Shop, in Pennsylvania.  My first class was Landscape 101 using patterns I had designed.  I learned so much about teaching in those first few years.  Teaching a hands on class like quilting, there is a balance when demonstrating one step at a time.  Do you wait for everyone to finish a certain step or teach at the pace of the faster student? Do you teach with a single voice or learn to teach using various voices because students learn in different ways? These are issues I didn't have a clue about until I stood in front of a classroom.  Sometimes I think I should give back the fees to all my initial students! I learned so much from them about teaching and about quilting. 
If you asked my students now, I think they would say I am a pretty good teacher. 
 I got my education on my feet. 
Sometimes, as a designer, I get lost in the trees.  Students help you to see the forest as well. 
I was teaching my basic Sewing with Silk workshop.  I designed the class to create a wall hanging with a choice of 3 different colorways. I had also used 3 different settings - all half square triangles.
So why was I surprised when a class full of creative women, decided to use their own arrangements  and shapes for their HSTs? There were square table toppers and elongated table runners as well as my original wall hanging.
So during my stay in Key West, only working with silk, I took their lead and made a new layout using a bunch of HSTs that I had put aside. I loved how it turned out.  Instead of binding, I used a facing to finish it. You can find my favorite method, by Jeri Riggs, HERE.
Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Great Quilting Tutorials

Martingale, aka That Patchwork Place, is one of the biggest publishers of quilting books.  They have a great blog called Stitch This!. They have scanned their authors' books and have put together a great list of quilt tutorials for basic techniques, including how to make bias tape, piece a quilt back,  sewing mitered corners and tying a quilter's knot.  I am so happy to be included with my tutorial on tips for a quick quilt label, using your printer,some scrap fabric and maybe a photo of your inspiration!
 To see all of the tutorials go to their blog, Stitch This!
 To see my tutorial on how to make a quilt label (which we know we should always do!), click HERE.
Happy Stitching!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Visiting Opportunities

The time in Paradise is ending and it's time to get back to regular life. Bailey and I did our last Sunday bicycling circumnavigation of the island this morning.  I will really miss it here.  I just really hope that there is no more precipitation in the clouds above Philadelphia.
If you are in the Coral Springs, Florida area, I will be stopping there on our drive back up North.  On Friday night, 2/28, I will be presenting my lecture about the quilts I designed that were inspired by a trip to Mexico.  On Saturday, there will be a workshop.  I think there are still a couple of spaces.
At the end of March, I will be giving a workshop for The Red Rose Quilt Guild in Lancaster, PA.  They "twisted my arm" to develop it into a workshop and share how I made my quilt "Roundabout", now renamed "Curvalicious". 
We'll be doing it in a smaller version that can be used on a wall or as a tablerunner. (It has become my newest silk workshop if your quilt guild may be interested.)  I think there are still places left there too.  Contact them if you are interested.

And, if you are interested in seeing my Bailey quilt, up close and personal, she is a semi-finalist and will be hanging at the AQS quilt show in Lancaster, March 12-15. Maybe I'll see you there.
Follow on Bloglovin

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ground Hog Day

It was a week ago that my phone went for a swim in the Atlantic Ocean. It was during my weekly sunrise circumnavigation of the island of Key West with my faithful companion on my bike.

I remember the exact spot where we took a few minutes to take in the view, on a bench along the sea wall.


As I was clumsily trying to get Bailey back in the basket to head home, the phone ended up here


That's how clear the water was. So close, yet so far.

It looks shallow, but it's about 6-8 feet deep.

I needed to re-create that morning. I now have a new, functioning phone.



Saturday, February 15, 2014

From Key West With Love

A belated a Happy a Valentine's Day.

Only in Key West.

I received a new iphone as my gift. Why did I need a new one? Because my 4 month old iphone "jumped" out of my bicycle basket, over the sea wall and ended up in the Atlantic Ocean. I could see it oh so clearly, about 8 feet down. I wish I had taken photos of the many people who tried to help me fish it out with a pool skimmer net, but I didn't have my phone. It could have been a TV show! Eventually, it was retrieved. DEAD.

And here are some photos for all of you snow weary readers.


Customs House

I love reading Hemingway while I am down here. This was one of his favorite watering holes. There are photos of him on all the walls. Although it is very touristy, I like to stop in to channel my inner Ernest.

Key West has a reputation as a drinking town.

This is the Main Street full of bars, restaurants, galleries and shops- home of the Duval Crawl.

(Use your imagination. )

I encountered this lizard on one of my walks.

It scared the $&@& out of me.


Monday, February 10, 2014

It's OK to PLay

My time in Key West has been spent working with silk dupioni. I am developing a new talk to present to quilt guilds and I like to show a big assortment of quilts. I brought all of my silk in a big tub with us.  I brought very little other fabric - although there is a lovely quilt shop on the island in case of an emergency!
 The question arises, what to do with the scraps that are generated from all the quilt making. 
I love perusing the internet, especially Pinterest when looking for an idea.  I eventually narrowed my search to string quilts.  I had lots of strips that I could use and chose to stay in as neutral palette - at least my neutral palette. My neutral palette includes oranges and rusts.
Since dupioni is such a coarse weave I always back it with something.  This time I used a light fusible interfacing, but instead of stabilizing all the little strips with it, I used it as a foundation.  After I sewed each strip, I flipped it open and pressed it.  I made most of the units to measure approximately 7" wide x 9" long. 
 After a lot of sewing I started running out of strips, so I sewed 2 or more together.
I really liked how these pieced strips looked when added into the block.

As I was making the blocks, I thought about various arrangements for them .  I had a few in mind.  But I like to work what I call organically, or in other words flying by the seat of my pants, and wasn't quite sure what the final arrangement would be.  It's good to be flexible when creating a quilt. 
 You just never know where it will take you.
I have a design wall set up. Please excuse the colors of the photos.  There isn't very good lighting.
This was the first setting I was thinking about.  I placed strips of the blocks, strata, on black silk dupioni.  My plan was then to add silk circles to the black strips.
It was OK.

Next, I tried an offset arrangement, reminding me a bit of a rail fence.
 The next try was just using the blocks without the black silk.  I liked this better.
But what would happened if I rotated it so the individual strips were horizontal?
I was surprised, but this was my favorite.
It's a very nice contemporary piece that works thanks to the palette and the variation in strip widths.  The places where the strips are pieced add a lot of interest and serve as a sort of jolt as your eyes wander around. 
But now I had to add my own touch to the quilt via a couple of borders. 
 This is what I think is very interesting.  When the quilt is in what I call the horizontal orientation, I like black borders.\
But when I rotate it so that the quilt is in the vertical orientation, I like the light borders.
I'm not sure yet what I will put in the borders.  My first thought is my beloved circles, but I will leave the quilt on my design wall and let the whole idea marinate for now. 
And if you were wondering what the back looked like with the fusible foundation, this is it.
And close-up.